Field-Marshal Lord Amherst: A Military Enigma

An able and victorious commander in North America during the Seven Years War, Amherst three times refused to return to the scene of his triumphs. Rex Whitworth seeks the explanation of the Field Marshal's conduct.

In July 1768, Lieutenant-General Sir Jeffrey Amherst, the organizer of victory over the French and Indians in North America, achieved extraordinary notoriety in London by refusing the invitation of King George III to take up his Governorship of the State of Virginia.

The celebrated soldier was thereupon deprived of the Governorship in favour of the unknown Lord Botetourt, a penniless friend of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. This nobleman, who had no previous knowledge of America, was packed off with a welcome, if small, salary to preside over the already restive spirits of the Old Colony. He was soon in difficulties and died in office two years later.

Amherst had always looked upon his Governorship as an honorary distinction and the accepted way of rewarding the undeniably great services of a military hero without private fortune. Certainly, the memory of his arduous campaigns in North America was uncongenial to one fond of London society and the pursuits of a country gentleman in Kent. But undoubtedly he was much taken aback by the consequences of his refusal to recross the Atlantic in the King’s service.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.